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Successful illustrator loses memory following fight with viral encephalitis

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Published on Sep 30, 2012

On December 31, 2007, Lonni Sue Johnson was laying in a hospital bed with a fever of 104 degrees. Doctors diagnosed infectious encephalitis. The virus attacked her temporal lobes and hippocampus where almost all our memories are processed. Days later, when the fever finally broke, the illustrator of dozens of children's books, whose drawings have appeared in periodicals like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and on the cover of the New Yorker had lost her memory. Although the amnesia was career ending, amazingly, art would become a critical part to her recovery. It was 11 months following the illness that Lonni Sue became fascinated with word search puzzles. The puzzles would become the building block that began to enable her to draw once again. (Video by Andre Malok / The Star-Ledger)

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